20 minutes of something
So I went ahead and did something I think a lot of my friends and peers would probably make fun of me for, and I purchased a udemy course with a mock-worthy title and author, but I decided just now that I don’t care.
Here is the exercise from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Creativity Workshop. Stop laughing.
What was the last thing you really wondered about?
Religious reform. But prior to that, Jesus Christ. I overheard a friend talking about “the only book that ever made sense to him,” which it turns out was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I don’t know what it was in that moment, but I remembered it the next day and asked my friend for the name of the book. This was the last momentous time I felt true, genuine curiosity and wonder. The simple kind — like that of a child. I have a thirst for knowledge in general, but it is often merely my need to accumulate facts driving me. This time, I was driven by a pure desire to uncover the mystery of this person, everything He stands for, and if there was a chance that I could find something to believe in and guide me. I think I was aching to be moved. Something within me stirred that day and I listened.
It was only after reading this book that I then needed to read more on the subject. I asked my friend for more recommendations, and went on to read The Great Divorce — a fiction outlining Lewis’ own beliefs about Heaven and Hell (two very real and separate places for Lewis). Out of fear of blindly accepting the eloquent arguments of Lewis, I proceeded to download Jesus on Trial by David Limbaugh and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins simultaneously. I also downloaded God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions of the World — and Why Their Differences Matter. I have yet to read The God Delusion but I did read Jesus on Trial in its entirety, even though the chapters on scripture could be particularly painful to get through at times. It was through this book however that more books were made known to me, which I went on to purchase of course, including a chronologically organized Daily Bible and Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures.
I also became utterly fascinated by the lives of two people: Martin Luther and Constantine and purchased Constantine the Great: The Reorganisation of the Empire and Triumph of the Church, Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought, and Concerning Christian Liberty by Martin Luther himself.
This reading list was put on hold in favour of my usual genre of self-improvement, but the last time I felt curious about something was reading briefly about the religious reform efforts of these two men. The last time I was completely smitten with the uncovering of information was when I was introduced to Mere Christianity.
When was the last time you experienced creative flow?
Whenever I get down on myself for not having enough passion to follow through with and master any of my fleeting interests, I should remember that there is something that I love doing so much, that does, without a doubt, give me the elusive “flow” that’s on the lips of every Ted Talks-watching, self-help reading, soul-searcher: singing.
To be more specific though, I believe the last time I really felt this transcendence through engaged action was when I was singing in the shower a few weeks ago. Something seemed to happen with my voice that I had not experienced before. Suddenly the songs I was singing, my go-to favourites, sounded different. And I was responsible for this. Realizing that there was an audible shift taking place with my voice without any real source to identify made me giddy. Instead of mimicking the original singer’s voice, suddenly the songs sounded like mine. I was creating my own version and I felt a strong desire to express this unifying quality with every song I sang thereafter. I haven’t really had that experience since, but I feel as though I tapped into something that deserves further exploration.
What did you love to do most of all when you were 8 years old?
When I was 8, I was in grade… 3? That places me in Madame Mayhew’s class… where I was completley obsessed with English class, taught by Mrs. Madore. She used to say “Perfectomundo!” every time I handed in an assignment or answered a question correctly in class. I remember her telling me once that she admired the way my hand stayed firmly in the air whenever she asked the class a question as I patiently waited to be called upon to have a chance at answering.
I loved everything about English class. I loved reading, I loved writing creative stories, I loved spelling tests… I loved burning the difficult spelling of certain words into my memory. I remember looking forward to English every day; it’s just where I wanted to be because it felt comfortable and exciting at the same time.
I remember being so sure of myself all of the time. I don’t ever remember worrying what anyone else thought of me. I remember seeking out new experiences as opposed to avoiding them. I wanted to be the first, the best… I wish I was better at channeling that now.
What was the last passage from a book, piece of music, or work of art that really inspired you? What drew you to it?
This was a quote from W.E.B. Dubois, mentioned in Ferrazzi and Raz’s Never Eat Alone, and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time: “Make yourself do unpleasant things so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.” What drew me to it was the fact that I happened to be in the midst of making myself do an unpleasant thing, that did indeed make me feel more in sync with positive energy. I had delivered a presentation that day at a nonprofit where I’m volunteering.
Public speaking has haunted me for several years. My inability to tend to the individual thoughts and expectations of so many people at the same time paralyzes me. And even if my logic can save me from completely botching these instances, my body has always betrayed me with quickened heartbeat and shaky hands that make a smooth delivery all the more difficult.
That being said, on this particular day, when I read this particular quote after this particular powerpoint presentation, I felt a sense of alignment and certainty that no truer words have been spoken. I realized that the more uncomfortable I am, the more I am likely to grow… a very daunting realization actually. One I am very tempted to dispose of when I feel anxious about the life I’m trying to do right by.
What are you doing when you feel most beautiful?
I think I feel “most beautiful” when I’m talking to someone one-on-one and I feel that what I am saying is truly being understood, I’m being heard and what I am saying is affecting them somehow.
What are your superpowers?
I’m assuming this is some kind of new age term to describe talents? My ability to maintain eye contact without coming off as creepy. Boom.
What would you do for a living if you were not afraid of anything?
The first thing that comes to mind is singing in a musical, but knowing me, I don’t think I want to do ONE thing for a living. I would soon tire of the routine and long for something different. I’m uncertain of whether I should heed Emilie Wapnick’s advice and accept that I am a “multipotentialite” or simply learn how to “substitute nuance for novelty” as Angela Duckworth advises in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
So, I guess this was supposed to take 20 minutes. It didn’t. It took much longer, and I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is the sense of guilt I now have for doing such a self-indulgent exercise. But that’s another post.
*Remember: These writing exercises are designed to be fast, not perfect. Write freely and try not to critique or edit yourself! — WHOOPS